Tuesday, September 23, 2014

IBM Simon the world's first smartphone. What's inside

Once I got into the hands of some entertaining device - the mobile phone IBM Simon. It amusing that the world's first smartphone. That is, the phone features combine PDA, touch screen and the ability to install third-party applications. 
After learning old archives I found this unit seemed interesting enough. As usual, in these old articles very superficially was painted interior, so removing a small layer of dust from his set of screwdrivers that I used for the repair of portable electronics, I undertook a more detailed study of this dinosaur inside. 
Result struck me as interesting, so I decided to share it with Habrasoobschestvom order not to hide the little opening in his modest garage. Please meet: IBM Simon proudly old man reclined on a rock in the company of a young moss:

IBM Simon

A bit of history

IBM Simon Says HelloMuch later, those times when mammoths roamed the sad surface of our planet, but before the release of iPhone 5 announcement and Jelly Beans humanity began to think about the miniaturization of electronic devices that could be worn with them, and they served as desktop computers. 
Around this time by IBM developed the first version of the smartphone called the IBM Simon, which first went on sale in August 1994. Directly engaged in the production of Mitsubishi Electric Corp. 
IBM Simon'a prototype codenamed «Angler» was presented at the fall COMDEX 1992.Even then, he was met with public interest zamentnym. 
Total has sold 50,000 units. As far as I know, they are only sold in the United States through BellSouth Cellular. Retail price of the contract was $ 1,099. With dvugodichnym contract price was $ 899, which was later reduced to $ 599. 
IBM Simon to receive faxes, emails, work as a pager (who remembers what it is - to orange), embedded applications run and just be helpful electronic assistant at the a time when technology was just thinking that would go out of the dusty offices in the pockets of users.Generally, in the region of 1994 were announced similar devices like the Sony Magic Link ,Motorola Marco , AT & T EO Personal Communicator . But they all share is that they were PDA with built-in radio modems. At a time when IBM Simon was unique in that it was a phone with a built-in PDA. Interestingly, the expression «smartphone» appeared later about the 1997th, but functionally IBM Simon is the first smartphone.

Brief technical details

This wonder-phone had decent enough parameters for the time:
  • Vadem x86-compatible processor, 16 MHz, 16-bit
  • Black-and-white touch screen with a resolution of 160x293
  • OS: a version of DOS, called ROM-DOS and released by Datalight
  • 1 MB of RAM (about 640 KB available)
  • 1 MB flash for applications and data (compression of used, so maybe the size was a bit more)
  • Built-in modem to 2400 baud
  • PCMCIA slot for memory and expansion cards and applications
  • Battery for about an hour of talk time and 12.8 hours in standby mode
  • Half a kilo of weight


As without comparison? I decided to compare the IBM Simon with the following devices (left to right): 
Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Apple iPhone 4, a means of transferring information savage tribes (AKA Cone) and the IBM Simon. Same technique, but a side view (who can guess where he will receive a unit bump as a gift from our sponsor):
IBM Simon

IBM Simon


I am confident that the weakness disassemble and see what's inside at all that comes to hand is not just me, so let's move to this exciting process. So, remove the battery and unscrew the four screws. After that, remove the back cover: Remove the protective screen: Phone is divided into two units: the processor part (top photo) and the phone part (bottom photo).Unfortunately, I could not find the right screwdriver to unscrew the antenna that would be so deep in the phone part of the climb did not happen. But was able to get into the processor part and unscrewing the board you can see the reverse side of the CPU: Our central processor Vadem VG-230: IC Vadem VG230 is a single-crystal PC platform, which contains all the necessary peripherals XT. Vadem VG230 contains a 8086-compatible NEC V30HL processor, clocked at 16 MHz. This crystal has a PCMCIA controller, CGA LCD, controller for input stylus, XT keyboard and stuff. detailed technical information for those who are interested: Datasheetway in nature was an improved version of the processor under the label VG330, which is designed to operate at a frequency of 32 MHz. Here clearly visible Cirrus Logic CL-MD1224 and CL-MD1624, which act as a modem to 2400 baud, as well as a fax to 9600. Sony CXK58257 - a static RAM memory 32 KB. Judging by the connection is used for the modem buffer. Also here are clearly visible and the Intel Flash Hitachi Flash for user data, and DOS. visible in the far corner of the two chips Hitachi 658512LTT-10. Each of them joyfully serves as the pseudo-static RAM 512 KB. Together they organize 1 MB of RAM (available to the user about 640 KB).

IBM Simon

IBM Simon

IBM Simon

IBM Simon

IBM Simon

IBM Simon


On the whole assembly seemed to me a very accurate and robust. I still have a very positive experience at the domestic acquaintance with this phone. Disassemble-assemble was easy, all components are available. 
IBM Simon gives the impression of a certain ultra-book, when the minimum amount of huddled fully functional computer with small features like the small screen, no keyboard, and so on. 
Modern smartphones have long passed this step and focus on maximizing the integration . For example, in modern smartphones phone part is not going fee, but is closely connected to the processing unit. Historically IBM Simon, though produced a fairly short time, but he was undoubtedly one of the pioneers who set the direction of development of mobile telephony and personal gadgets to we have already got used.


Proper charging your smartphone. Important Tips

Proper charging smartphone
More recently began to notice that my phone was quickly discharged. Should talk to someone with one or two of his friends, he immediately need to put the phone on charge, or on the following important conversation, the connection may be broken. And it so happens, especially in the important moments of conversation. Well, when the charger on hand and can be immediately put to charge the phone and continue the conversation. But, if that is not there, then later have to explain the reason for termination of conversation. In connection with this, I think to buy a new smartphone, and also found an interesting article, how to charge the smartphone. May be useful to you.
Wholesale online marketplace Opt.Belsis.ru spends a sale of goods: covers for phones, cases for tablets, as well as universal covers with discounts up to 94% of the gross . Favorable delivery courier in Moscow and the regions.Pickup is available and postal services. Convenient payment methods: electronic money through the payment terminal, money order, etc.. Commodity details, payment and delivery of online internet site.
Almost all modern mobile devices are equipped with lithium-ion batteries. Their use is associated with some interesting moments, which are known not to all users.

However, knowledge of simple rules can significantly affect the duration of the devices and the battery life. Charge the battery regularly is desirable, avoiding it is fully discharged. The optimum charge quantity in which it is necessary to begin to "feed" - fifty percent. Anyway, drop to below ten per cent is highly undesirable. Some experts also recommend every three months to fully discharge the battery, then charge up to one hundred per cent and hold "on the wire" still eight to ten hours. This so-called "calibration" to determine the correct charge level. general, to charge the battery beyond measure is not necessary. Also, it is not necessary to wait for its full charge - this does not affect its performance. If the mobile is not used for a long time, then make sure that the battery has sufficient charge, not less than eighty percent. High and low temperature also have an impact on amount of energy in the battery of your smartphone. A charge mobile phone in the sun or under other extreme temperatures and at all forbidden. And one more, important detail. Try to use the original charger.Counterfeits are not safe for you and your machine.


New iPhone 6 will be resistant to almost all types of damage, according to YouTube user Marcus Brownlee, put the video test display on your channel. According to him, he bought one of the screens and exposed him to a number of physical effects including stab and keys.

Artificial sapphire, - the solid, transparent material, which is a product of crystallization of the alumina at high temperatures. While the material is warmed up, it can be sliced ​​into wafers using a diamond-coated saw. The resulting wafer is cut into a desired shape and polish. Due to its scratch-resistant sapphire glass is a traditional material for making watches.
This material is already used in the iPhone 5S, where it protects the camera and Touch ID. In the future, sapphire crystal can be a replacement for the popular Gorilla Glass today
Marcus Brownlee said received screen from Sonny Dickson, specializing in leaks from Apple. He noted that in spite of all attempts to spoil the screen, he did not succeed. Moreover, glass has a high quality and does not permit color distortion. In its review, Brownlee said that the screen "paper thin."
The screen on the video has 4.7 inches diagonally, which heats the rumors about iPhone 6 two versions - with displays of 4.7 and 5.5 inches respectively. Reports that Apple is experimenting with a sapphire crystal appeared in the last year, but it is rumored that the technology has been recognized as "unworkable".
Sapphire glass (Sapphire Crystal) - glass made of synthetic sapphire.Sapphire Crystal - the most expensive, it features a characteristic shine, which lasts for many years and is very resistant to scratches. The hardness of the glass reaches 2200-2300 Vickers - so leave a mark on it is really very difficult, but still possible. Threat to the surface of the sapphire may be diamond, as well as certain synthetic compounds containing silicon carbide and used for furniture and simulating natural stone.

Sapphire crystal is much more expensive than usual, which made refer to assumptions about its use in the new iPhone with great caution. But Apple recently announced the creation of a new plant for the production of mineral glass in Arizona. He will be a joint venture between Apple and the leading manufacturer of sapphire GT Advanced Technologies. It is expected that the new plant will employ about 700 people.
GT Advanced Technologies noted that the agreement does not specify certain production volumes. Press secretary of Apple, however, noted that the total number of new jobs associated with the plant in Arizona will reach 2000.
Earlier this week, the company Foxconn, collecting iPhone, announced that the iPhone 6 will be the first product that will meet his "working robot." According to the plan, by the end of the year in the corporation to appear before millions of robot builders, is currently undergoing final tests. One robot worth 25 thousand dollars can collect up to 30 thousand iPhone a year.
While at Foxconn employs people, not robots, number of employees amounts to 1.2 million people across China.
However, the company Corning - a manufacturer of coating Gorilla Glass for protection from bumps and scratches iPhone, Galaxy S4, HTC One and other gadgets - lashed out at the glass of synthetic sapphire, which may be covered by screens of mobile devices in the near future. According to the senior vice president of Corning Tony Tripeni have sapphire glass more disadvantages than advantages over the "fortified" coated Gorilla Glass.
"[Sapphire] is about 10 times more expensive. It is almost 1.6 times heavier. It is not favorable for the environment. On its manufacture out 100 times more energy than glass. It transmits less light ... that leads either to a darker picture on the screen, or to reduce the 'life' of the battery. It still may crack, despite the resistance to scratching. Our tests indicate that the Gorilla Glass ... able to withstand 2.5 times more pressure than sapphire, "- said Tripeni at a conference organized by the bank Morgan Stanley.
For example, a top manager came to the conclusion that the glass of synthetic sapphire "is not suitable for the application of consumer electronics." In his speech Tripeni mentioned "one of the largest manufacturers of phones and devices", which wants to bring their products to the components of this material. According to the company, he, no doubt, meant Apple. It is expected that soon in Cupertino will make wider use of sapphire crystal - for example, to protect the screen of the next generation iPhone and smart-hours iWatch.
Apple now uses a sapphire crystal to protect the lens of the camera and fingerprint sensor Touch ID in the iPhone 5S, built in the "Home." And in November, a manufacturer of i-gadgets invested in the plant for the production of synthetic sapphire glass more than half a billion dollars.
Experts believe that the benefits of sapphire glass - the hardest natural substance after diamond - on the contrary, outweigh the disadvantages.Firstly, it is 3-4 times stronger than the coating Corning. Secondly, sapphire colorless, resistant to scratching, very hard (melts at 2030 degrees Celsius) and also substantially impervious to corrosive chemicals.On the other hand, sapphire crystal heavier much more expensive to produce and not as transparent as Gorilla Glass.
What is a sapphire? 
It superhard form of a transparent crystal that looks and behaves like glass or diamond.

Do not sapphire gem? 
Sapphire takes many forms, including can also be a gem. It can be yellow, purple, orange, green or red. By the way, red sapphire, better known as Ruby. The most famous gemstone sapphire blue hue.

Do not turn blue screen smartphone from sapphire? 
color gemstones give various impurities. Sapphire is used to produce colorless glass, as it is more pure. As it is significantly less impurities of different metals.

It is extracted from the earth? 
Precious sapphires, as well as other gems are mined. Sapphire glass used in jewelry is not, in turn, are made ​​artificially. The first synthetic sapphire was created in 1902 by the French chemist August, will return.Since that time a lot has changed, but in general, all the methods of production of sapphire using heat and pressure to produce a crystal of aluminum oxide.

Where currently used sapphire glass? 
Most synthetic sapphires are used in industrial processes, rubies are used to create the red lasers. Sapphires are also used to create resistant glass such as bullet-proof, or glass for scientific equipment. In large glass shopping centers are used for strength sapphires. These glasses are also used in barcode scanners, as they are very hard to scratch. The widespread use of sapphire glass got in a wristwatch. Hardness and scratch resistance features a quality product, and that gives him a sapphire these properties. Home button with Touch ID and glass camera in the iPhone is also made ​​of sapphire glass that makes these elements are resistant to scratches.

Where we will see them in the future? 
Of course, we expect that the smartphone will be the sapphire glass. It is very expensive for mass production, but according to rumors, Apple solved this problem. Currently Vertu Ti has a glass covered with crystals.

Why is not enough for us ordinary glass? 
Compared with conventional glass sapphire much harder, which makes it resistant to scratches, and is an important factor for the screens, lenses and other transparent surfaces. The hardness of the material is evaluated on the Mohs scale. Ordinary glass by this index reaches between 5.5 and 7 units, whereas the hardness of sapphire is 9 units. It is not much inferior to diamond in hardness. Hardness of steel - 4 units on the Mohs scale, hardened steel - 8 units. More solid object easily scratch less hard, and for a smartphone with a sapphire crystal in your pocket or bag no threat.

How much will this screen? 
Pricing Policy Apple's unwavering, and most likely there will make every effort to keep the cost of the smartphone unchanged.

What are the alternatives? 
now best known company with its product Corning Gorilla Glass. They argue that the sapphire screens will cost 10 times more expensive than their solution. Gorilla Glass - a chemically tempered glass, its hardness is not exactly made ​​public, but it is approximately 7 units on the Mohs scale.This product is used in a lot of today's smartphones, such as the Nexus 5 and Galaxy S4. There is also a Japanese company Asahi Glass Co, which has its own product Dragontail. Properties similar to the properties of the glass Gorilla Glass. Dragontail can be found in smartphones Sony Xperia Z1 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus.